On Mandela Day on July 18 2019, under the banner of action against poverty, 350Africa.org and partners protested over climate inaction outside the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni’s offices. We called on the minister to order public finance institutions to halt all finance on new coal, oil and gas exploration. This action is associated with a year-long campaign, challenging the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to not fund new coal power in South Africa and instead finance energy solutions that can help deliver a just transition to a low carbon future.

For 67 minutes we incorporated art, public engagement and a rally outside the ministers office. Each minute of the 67 minute activity on Mandela Day represents each year of the 67 years that  Nelson Mandela devoted his life to public service. For this action, we urged that public finance institutions like the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Public Investment Corporation (PIC) stop funding fossil fuels, and instead finance a just and rapid transition to a 100% renewable energy future.

This action ended off with the delivery of a letter addressed to the minister. Lwazi Giba, National Treasury’s Chief Risk Officer collected the letter on behalf of the minister.  Campaigners and participants representing community based organisations spoke to Mr Giba, amplifying the voice of the most vulnerable people to the impacts of the climate crisis. They stressed the role that South Africa’s public finance institutions can play in delivering clean energy infrastructure that leads towards a low carbon, climate resilient society free of poverty and dependency. We requested that the minister respond to our call, and meet with civil society organisations and communities.

South Africa is moving far too slowly in the face of rapidly increasing risks of the climate crisis. Drought in the Eastern and Western Cape, flooding in Kwa-Zulu Natal and recent reports on how burning coal is killing people are demonstrative of the urgency needed to rapidly phase out fossil fuels. South Africa needs bold moves that rule out coal, oil and gas and prioritise clean energy development in ways that deliver on poverty reduction and scale up social protection programmes for the most vulnerable in our society.